Popularity isn’t everything

By David Talley | Published Saturday, February 25, 2017

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Last summer, I wrote a feature article on local teenagers playing the Pokemon GO smartphone game. If you missed the article, the game takes fictional creatures from the animated Pokemon television series and places them in the real world, using your phone’s GPS and camera.

Open up the game at the Messenger office, and you’ll see a map of downtown Decatur. Walk around a little bit and some of the creatures will start to pop up, letting you use your phone’s camera to view them with the town’s notable landmarks as a backdrop.

David Talley

David Talley

Despite spending the week the article came out trying to become an expert on the game, I never actually played it because my phone’s operating system was too old to support the app. After upgrading my device due to a cracked screen, I finally had the chance to give the game a try earlier this month.

While everyone else may have gotten bored of Pokemon a few months after the game’s release, I’m finding it fun for the first time. The game’s makers, Niantic, have continued adding features to make the game more entertaining and the lack of other players running around just means there are more Pokemon for me to catch.

Playing the game has gotten me curious though: what other things are we missing out on just because they’ve fallen out of popularity?

Kites – Unlike Pokemon GO, it’s been more than a few months since kite flying was a popular pastime. Thanks to Wikipedia, we know the “golden age of kiting” was somewhere between 1860 and 1910, when kites were used mostly for scientific purposes. But the act of flying a kite is still really fun. Kites are cheap and require only an open field and a stiff breeze to get going.

My grandmother will usually buy the family kids kites when we visit for Easter, and we’ll head to the nearby McCarroll Middle School soccer fields to try them out. Watching your cousins sprint across a field in an attempt to generate the wind needed to get their kite airborne is pretty entertaining.

“The Prince of Egypt” – My coworker Racey touched on this in an earlier column, but this movie from 1998 is solid. In fact, it may be my favorite animated film of all time. It’s nearly impossible not to get chills during the movie’s songs, and the star-studded cast of Val Kilmer, Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Steve Martin, Patrick Stewart and Martin Short is great. It’s one of the most successful non-Disney animated films, but since it’s not Disney, it doesn’t get the periodic re-releases that those movies get. Still, it’s on Netflix right now, so go watch it if you haven’t seen it since it came out.

PBS documentaries – As animal documentaries go, Shark Week gets all the love. And what’s not to love?

It’s a week where we can watch awesome videos of things that can kill us and call it educational. But what if I told you that stuff is on all year? Of the last few nature documentaries PBS has screened, several include giant prehistoric snakes, and one focuses on who would win in a fight between a giant snake and an alligator.

Currently, PBS’ “Spy in the Wild” documentary series places a fake animal inside a herd of actual animals to see what the animals do when they don’t know they’re being watched.

Professional cycling – Of course, a David column mentions cycling. If you stopped watching the Tour de France after Lance quit, you’re missing out on the drama and beauty of professional cycling.

Five Americans (including one Texan) competed in the 2016 Tour de France, and more are likely to earn spots on their squads this year.

But the TdF isn’t the only big race this year, and Americans are even favorites to win a few others, so consider tuning in.

So while my coworkers roll their eyes at my Pokemon collection, I’ll keep on catching them all. Y’all don’t know what you’re missing.

David Talley is a Messenger reporter.

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